Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas Mash Up

The Christmas Mash Up

Hark the herald.
Hark the herald angels sing is a very boring Christmas Carol to play if you are second trombone in an orchestra.  It wasn’t written as a Christmas song at all but was penned by Felix Mendelsohn as a celebration of the 400th anniversary  of the  invention of the Gutenburg  Printing Press and is actually called the Gutenberg  Cantata.  The German title of the piece is as long as this blog so we won’t bother with that. Interestingly, Felix said he didn’t care what lyrics were sung along with his music, as long as they were not religious. 
So that didn’t really pan out. Eight years after Felix died,  Wesley and Whitefield wrote Hark The Herald, it became very popular and the life of a second trombone became very tedious  indeed.
I did make it to first trombone  which was a tad more exciting.
Full title ; Festgesang (Gutenberg cantata);  Festgesang zur Eröffnung der am ersten Tage der vierten Säkularfeier der Erfindung der Buchdruckerkunst.


Ice Rinks
The world's first  man made ice rink was made of  pig fat and salt. And it  ponged. It was in Baker Street. London  in  1844.  It was one shilling ( 5p ) to get in,  another shilling to skate past the Alpine scenery painted on the walls.  By 1876 the technology had been developed  to freeze large amounts of water and the same process remains  in use today. That was invented by John  Gamgee, a vet  who was thinking of ways to keep meat fresh  on the journey from Australia.
James Gamgee, the brother of the iceman probably gave Frodo’s pal his name. James Gamgee invented many surgical  bits and bobs; the surgical dressing with cotton wool between two layers of Gauze is a Gamgee dressing. There’s no real reason why that is odd, but it is.

Four Calling Birds, Three French hens
The four calling birds should be four collie birds as in colliery birds, as in birds as black as a bird that has been down a mine. That would be blackbirds then.
There will be no French Hens post Brexit.

Four and Twenty Blackbirds
And while we are at it, as all good Agatha Christie fans know…  four and twenty black birds were baked in a pie. No, they were not. It was a surprise pie. The pastry would be blind baked and then the  birds or frogs or both  were placed in it- alive and  Tarr Raaarrr when it was opened on the table, the animal would just come out to huge amusement and entertainment of those present. This was before the mobile phone was invented.

Oh Tannenbaum
The original  version  of Oh Christmas Tree – Oh Tannenbaum  compares the faithfulness  of the needles of the pine tree to the wanton behaviour of an unfaithful woman. So that’s not really about  Christmas either.

Time gentleman please?
And interestingly, there’s no legal drinking up time after last orders in England  and Wales but by law its’ 15 minutes in  Scotland. So after the bell goes, you have a quarter of an hour to  neck your pint. In Scotland, that is no problem.

Angel Wings
How many wings does an angel have?  Mine has four. But  that is  dependant on the kind of angel; seraphim (s) have 6, cherubs have four.  No angels have two.
St Nicholas
So we know that  Santa Claus came from  St Nicholas, the Beach Boys wrote a festive ditty about it. St Nick was a 4th century bishop who gave away his wealth and rescued woman from a life of misery.
Then Coca Cola got in on the act around 1931 and big fat jolly Santa was born.

Whoever invented the elf on the shelf should be put against a wall and shot. Slowly. While being  forced to listen to the Pogues.

The Christmas tree
Is responsible for many  house fires over  the festive period. The origin of Christmas trees  really spans way back over time  to the Romans and the Egyptians. Evergreen trees pop up in every culture where there is a sense of a ‘midwinter’.
Then young  Prince Albert of Germany  and Queen Victoria of England had a drawing done of them standing on front of their decorated tree and it appeared in  the Illustrated London News in 1848 and the wheels of  celebrity worked even then. And the Christmas Tree as we know it today was born. 


Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
Is either a female or a eunuch as he/she has antlers  in December. Is Rudy technically the world first transgender superstar?

"Xmas" ??
The term goes back to the middle ages. Seemingly  the spelling "Xianity" was used for Christianity  around the 1000-1300. Is X (or Chi) the first letter of "Christ"  in Greek? Jeff?
In 1500’s the holiday  was referred to as "Xtemmas"  and then shortened.
Is a symbol of fertility and virility. The German translation of Mistletoe means ‘Shit on a twig’.
As mistle thrush nibble at the berries, the seeds are not fully digested and are then deposited on the ground so the seeds grow etc etc.

And the most popular Christmas song is ...
Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas Is You.
The all time best seller is Bing Crosby's White Christmas.
And Bing appears on Caro’s fav.  Bing and Dave doing Little Drummer Boy. 

Have a lovely festive time all!



  1. How do you come up with this stuff? Is it the water? Mushrooms? Mistletoe berries? All I can say is following you on Saturday has me feeling as if I'm playing third trombone--at best. :)

    And yes, Christmas in Greek starts with an "X," as in Καλα Χριστουγεννα! And the very best of what all that means to you and Alan!

  2. After your rendition of the full German title of Gutenberg's Cantata, I had the strongest urge to say, "Gesundheit!"

    Our friend Timothy Hallinan would, no doubt, have nasty things to say about Caro's fave, "The Little Drummer Boy" (reference "Fields Where They Lay").

    And I agree with Jeff (I've GOT to stop doing that!). WHERE do you come up with all this stuff?

  3. Loved this post! What an amazing amount of information -- and as ex pats living in a Greek village, Agios Nikolaos (St. Nikolas) I can attest to the fact that our St. Nik is a skinny rather serious looking fellow who would likely not be caught climbing down chimneys to leave gifts. Merry Christmas to you and all who provide such wonderful posts on this blog!